Tag Archives: 2012 elections

Economic stagnation: Obama’s white flight problem | The Economist

14 Jun

Hmmm. . . I sure is hard to have faith in a political system that keeps throwing up lousy choices.

The “framed choice” strategy is basically this: Everyone knows that pensions (Social Security) and health care (Medicare, Medicaid, child health programmes) are going to bankrupt the nation unless they are “right-sized” to revenue and existing debt. Whoever is elected president in 2012 will have to “right-size” these programmes over the course of the next four years. The framed choice for the white voters who will decide this election is this: Who do you think will better protect the interests of working-class and middle-class families when the inevitable cuts are packaged? Who do you want negotiating for you when it comes down to who gets hurt and who doesn’t? Do you really want Mitt Romney and a bunch of right-wing congressmen making these decisions?

Andrew Sullivan agrees that the framed-choice (and not the negative, scorched-earth) strategy is Mr Obama’s best bet, and that it may be. But how good a bet is it, really? We all know that incumbents don’t often survive poor economic conditions, and that Mr Obama, who inherited a financial crisis and a deep recession, was dealt a crap hand. But if recession raises the stakes of zero-sum distributive politics, and if that, in turn, heightens the extent to which distributive politics is simply identity politics, Mr Obama’s crap hand may be worse than we thought. If, as Mr Friedman argues, economic stagnation brings out the worst in us, that suggests a bad economy will penalise a black incumbent more than it will penalise a white incumbent.

via Economic stagnation: Obama’s white flight problem | The Economist.

The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com

16 May

TnT’s not a Douthat fan, but he has some interesting remarks about the failure of Americans Elect to gain traction:

Successful third parties need dynamic, high profile leaders, and ideally deep-pocketed ones as well. But instead of a Bloomberg, the Americans Elect ballot had ex-Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer; instead of a Bayh or a Snowe, they had Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University. Kotlikoff has impressive policy proposals and Roemer has an entertaining Twitter feed, but neither is exactly the potential general election spoiler who could keep David Axelrod awake at night.

But the fault also lay with the project’s essential theory of what kind of third party contender disillusioned voters are pining to elect. From the (inarguable) premise that the public is wearied by the failures of the political and economic establishment, it leaped to the (preposterous) conclusion that the country is crying out for a presidential candidate who mostly represents the interests and values of exactly that same establishment.

Like the afore mentioned New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a wealthy  centrist technocrat. To the contrary

 the most successful third party surges, from the William Jennings Bryan-era Populists down to Ross Perot’s 19 percent, usually arise from precisely the opposite impulse – a “plague on both your houses” populism that highlights issues and anxieties that the leaders of the two major parties have decided to ignore.

Such a populism has flowered over the last two years, but it’s mostly appeared on the right and left-wing fringes of the two parties rather than in the space between them — in the Tea Party’s backlash against bailouts and spending and in the Occupy Wall Street revolt against Wall Street’s political influence.

It’s possible to imagine a gifted political figure emerging to fuse elements from the Tea Party and O.W.S. critiques into a plausible third party challenge to politics as usual. But such a candidate would look nothing like Michael Bloomberg or any other high-minded Davos/Brookings type of technocrat. Instead, he or she would be more disreputable, more eccentric, and probably more demagogic as well. Such a candidacy (Pat Buchanan meets Ralph Nader) wouldn’t have to actually govern the country; instead, its purpose would be to jolt the two parties out of their usual habits and arguments and to persuade one or both of them to adopt some of its ideas.

via The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com.

Three congressional challengers very worth supporting – Salon.com

5 Apr

Glenn Greenwald has been looking for Congressional candidates worthy of support, candidates who see the world clearly and want to change the game. He’s found three. As Charlie Keil says,l they’re “EXAMPLES of INDEPENDENT thinking toward nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament, stopping wars/empire/ETC.” They’re Truth and Traditions kind of people.

… there are a few new candidates for Congress who are both genuinely exciting and viable, and thus very much worthy of attention and support.

My research assistant, Columbia Law student Jessica Lutkenhaus, and I spent the last several weeks examining a dozen or so Congressional challengers, obtaining their answers to a questionnaire we prepared about vital issues that receive far too little attention, and determining as well as we could which were actually viable candidates to win in their districts. The search was not restricted by party affiliation or any considerations other than quality of positions, independence and viability. From that process, three candidates emerged who I really believe are worth highlighting and supporting: Norman Solomon in California, Franke Wilmer in Montana and Cecil Bothwell in North Carolina. All three have a long, established record of genuine independence and outspoken advocacy on difficult issues, and I’m positive that none will simply become loyal foot soldiers to Party leadership or blend into the rotted D.C. woodwork.

via Three congressional challengers very worth supporting – Salon.com. More below the fold. Continue reading